If you wanted to alienate the largest number of Canadians in the shortest amount of time, you couldn’t do much better than defacing a Terry Fox statue with an inverted Canadian flag and your political propaganda. Well, unless you used the cenotaph at the National War Memorial as a campsite and restroom, and literally danced on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. And, of course, it’s hard to imagine that many were thrilled to see both the swastika and the confederate flag flying on Parliament Hill. At least there wasn’t any violence.
That’s the only silver lining for the Conservative MPs who foolishly decided to embrace Saturday’s rally and its toxic brew of hatred and misinformation, and then had to scramble to issue half-hearted apologies and explanations of their behaviour.
Less than a day after meeting with some of the truckers, CPC leader Erin O’Toole was forced to post a series of tweets condemning them for literally dancing on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at the National War Memorial on Saturday (where some truckers had actually parked the night before). Edmonton-area MP Michael Cooper, who infamously read a quote from the manifesto of the perpetrator of a 2019 New Zealand mosque shooting that left 51 Muslims dead into the parliamentary record, had to issue a statement of his own explaining that he did, in fact, oppose Nazism (but that the presence of a bunch of swastikas shouldn’t be held against the protesters).
Even someone who wasn’t wearing their glasses could have seen this coming, given the warning signs that were repeatedly flashed as the convoy made its way towards Ottawa. These were not peaceful patriots, as Cooper and the other CPC MPs that attended the rally tried to pretend. It was a disorganized rabble of riled-up miscreants who spent their day cosplaying as revolutionaries and heroes. They threw beer cans at journalists, defecated in public, harassed local business owners, and even stole meals from a local soup kitchen that were intended for the homeless because they refused to wear their masks inside nearby restaurants. And now, after Ottawa cleans up the crap (both literal and figurative) that the demonstrators will leave in their wake, the rest of us will have our own work to do.
These protesters will leave Ottawa in due course, but they’re not going away. They’ve spent the better part of a week being feted as heroes by conservative politicians and commentators, with Postmedia’s predictably desperate attempts to carry water for the convoy culminating in a truly ludicrous op-ed from a former Wildrose staffer in Alberta who compared the truck rally to Woodstock. They’ve gotten name-checked by high-profile celebrities like Elon Musk and Russell Brand, and even won a shout out from Donald Trump at one of his recent rallies. It’s going to be very hard to come down from that high, and a lot of people are going to keep chasing the next one.
What people are reading
On the one hand, these people have already consumed more than enough of our shared political and media oxygen. And there’s an obvious unfairness in how much attention they’ve received, given how small their rally was compared to others held recently. Estimates of the crowd size ranged from just 1,100 to 10,000, but regardless of how many people were there it’s clear it paled in comparison to recent climate protests or Black Lives Matter rallies. Why, exactly, should we pay attention to their demands, especially when they’re neither clear nor coherent?
The answer, I think, is because these people can still do a lot of damage. A recent Mainstreet poll pegged support for the People’s Party of Canada at 13 per cent, and while that’s probably a reflection of the current focus on vaccine mandates and COVID-19, it’s also a warning shot across the bow to all three other major parties. The PPC’s willingness to attack journalists, undermine expertise, and chip away at the foundations of civil society make it an existential threat to our country, one that seems to be growing. It’s going to be hard to put this toothpaste back in the tube, especially when the Conservative Party of Canada seems determined to keep squeezing it out.
Ironically, that job may fall to the person who was the prime target of the rally: Justin Trudeau. It wasn’t really about border mandates for truckers or removing COVID restrictions (especially since they fall under provincial jurisdiction), and it wasn’t about protecting freedom or liberty. It was about hating the Prime Minister in the most visible and visceral way possible. And while that hatred and the ugly visuals it produced will surely help the Liberals in the next campaign, maybe Trudeau shouldn’t be there to lead it.
The only way to put this anger and hatred behind us is with a resounding defeat of it at the polls. For all of his gifts as a politician, Trudeau almost certainly isn’t the person to pull that off. The conservative movement has invested huge time and energy in making their supporters hate him, and it’s paid off. His very presence keeps them enraged and engaged. If our Prime Minister wants to prevent this maple-tinged Trumpism from fully infecting our body politic, he may have to step aside for the greater good — and make way for someone who can finish the job.
That might be a solution, but
That might be a solution, but I wonder how this could be done without emboldening the Conservatives' well-oiled propaganda machine and their rabid base. They would clearly see this as a victory for their movement. Like the Republicans that they love to copy so much, they will just make new character assassination campaigns to demonize the next ones in line and find new strawmen to trigger their gullible base with. Who can possibly put the toothpaste back in the tube at this stage when, as the author said, the CPC keeps pressing on the tube? And then what, next? Just let the Conservatives get in power for the sake of appeasing their extremist fringe?
I agree with everything here,
I agree with everything here, except that the fact the mob aimed at Trudeau was almost accidental, and they certainly don't need a target of any kind. That's the problem: the Conservatives in particular, unwilling to countenance the possibility of losing the votes of the unhinged or opposed to civil society in general, have encouraged this group to see themselves as exercising political choice when all they're doing is having a tantrum. They won't need a target for future tantrums, and while Mr. Trudeau is a lightning rod and for other reasons should be working on a succession plan, I am unconvinced that the CPC or this group of narcissists will be ready to respect the next leader. Targeting Trudeau, after all, has been the central plank of the CPC platform for 9 years already.
Yeah, it's a toss-up whether
Yeah, it's a toss-up whether they hate Trudeau more, or the "libtards" generally, and this is more than 9 years. It started with Trudeau's father and the National Energy Program 40 years ago.
Casting aspersions on the intelligence of those who vote Liberal is a standard con tactic, i.e. deke everyone out by accusing your enemy of what YOU are in fact doing, or BEING as you hide in plain sight. Reminds me of the childhood taunt, "I know you are but what am I?" The "libtard" name is a typical example of conservative anti-intellectualism but one of the more glaring examples when so many of these guys have so much trouble stringing a sentence together.
Mind you, although many on the left have smugly felt like we are the "smart ones," the fact that these morons are gaining traction very much belies that. Federally, they're still breathing down our necks, and provincially, they easily dominate.
Bill Maher was accurate in calling this a "slow-moving coup." He was also right that we desperately need a few "bastards for progressivism." No more mild-mannered virtue-signalling, tut-tutting, turning the other cheek with "tolerance" and consideration, "going high when they go low" crap. It's obviously not working.
Tipping point to change seen to be around 25% and apparently the supporters of Bernier's party comprise roughly 13%?
One thing to keep in mind is
One thing to keep in mind is that, while we tend to think of this whole modern far-right phenomenon as an organic thing just spontaneously bubbling up from the Id of people we don't like, it isn't. There are two things driving it:
1. The rise of neoliberalism since the 80s has made an awful lot of people worse off, and even those still doing OK often fear with some justification that that is not a stable situation. Centrist and even nominally social democratic parties such as the Liberals, Democrats, UK Labour and so on have proved unwilling to do anything to actually help people much, and have generally gone along with the trend.
2. Fearing that the dissatisfaction and anger caused by (1) might lead people to socialist solutions that would redistribute their wealth and perhaps even seriously diminish their power, some of the very wealthy have dedicated a good deal of money to directing that dissatisfaction in other directions--creating movements that will vent anger in ways that will not displace plutocrats, such as against scapegoats such as immigrants, blacks, scientists, First Nations et cetera. There's a lot of cash behind the alt-right media, whether "talk radio" a la Rush Limbaugh, right wing televangelists, Breitbart, or right wing social media. It didn't just happen by itself.
Mind you, the most effective lies mix in a bit of truth, and let's be frank--the rage against "liberals" is based to some extent on a genuine grievance against smug, upper-middle-class well-educated technocrats who have managed society into disaster while pretending it's the best of all possible worlds. Unfortunately, it's also easy to extend into grievance against anyone knowledgeable who tells a truth inconvenient to the very wealthy, such as "climate change is happening and we need to stop emitting greenhouse gases", or "to save people's lives, we need to take strong public health measures".
Going high and maintaining
Going high and maintaining the dignity and respect for our institutions is the only way to keep out of the muck.
But the real fix for this IMHO is electoral reform. We need a voting system that rewards politicians and parties for working together.
Yes, but that natural
Yes, but that natural aversion to "muck" has made liars out of us too as Rufus points out in his comment-- we refuse to even call a spade a spade as we stand above the fray, pristine and righteous, but not actually doing much to change it. In Trudeau's address yesterday for example, he made no mention of the fact that these hooligan types are there to try and shut down government and HIM in particular. I get why he refuses to "meet" with them because all they want to do is abuse him, but he might have pointed out that any country SO respectful of protest and free speech that it even allows a bunch of big rigs to drive right up to the door of the house of government with "Fuck Trudeau" emblazoned on their sides when he is the duly democratically elected HEAD of the thing obviously have way too MUCH freedom.
Ehhhh, I don't think much of
Ehhhh, I don't think much of Trudeau, but it's not like I ever have or ever will vote Liberal (I'm in the "vote NDP because nothing further left can get a seat" camp), so it's not my business. And looking at a recent list of possible Trudeau successors in the Liberal party, it's not like I liked the look of any of them.
Ideally I'd like to see parties replace their leaders because some other person would be a better leader, not because a bunch of vile antidemocratic moron thugs dislike them. But I guess I can see the political calculus of wanting to demobilize the Conservative vote--heck, I can certainly see a Chrystia Freeland peeling off some Conservative votes, being the "tough" militarist that she is. Hopefully the NDP would pick up some left-Liberal votes in such a scenario.
True about the Liberals but
True about the Liberals but with neoliberalism (and anti-intellectualism, and populism) fullly manifesting, politics has become binary, making the leaders less important than the guiding philosophy.
To vote left wing or progressive, we've been relying on strategic voting because the left is splintered into various factions, but we really can't afford to keep indulging the cult of personality thing OR the narcissism of small differences.
On the left we should be pushing to unite the left; it's the only way we'll keep the orcs at bay. It's math.
I agree. Math is insidious
I agree. Math is insidious and has nothing to do with principles in our winner-take-all electoral system. Until proportional voting is introduced there will be a need for progressives to wake up to the cold math and log their strategic votes to keep regressive conservatives from waltzing up the aisle to the medal podium.
We can also be hopeful now
We can also be hopeful now about the right wing re-splintering mind you....
On the neoliberalism, I wish that journalists at least would provide this important context somehow, or communicators from the left wing, because even though many of these anti-vaxxers feel that they are "lab rats' with this "experimental vaccine," they're actually being manipulated by those plutocrats of neoliberalism, the actual experiment of decades now, that has been wildly successful. And their beloved social media is a central tool with algorithms that deliberately, exponentially increase bullshit. If they could grasp that context, I'd think they would refocus their anger where it should be; no one likes being duped, and they have been. We have all been somewhat.
It was bad enough that there
It was bad enough that there's no need to exaggerate it. The article doesn't exaggerate the actions, but it does focus on about six bad things that were done by a few dozen people.
Not that I'm supportive; they are indeed just angry, incoherent in their main demands (that the Feds take over Provincial health care orders), and littered with much worse people in their ranks.
And they were about as numerous as BLM protesters, who were estimated at 7,000 in June 2020 Ottawa.
BLM marches all have their few broken storefronts, as opportunistic thieves use the crowd as cover, and those who just like smashing things, the same. A certain amount of drunken-lout behaviour has to be allowed for, before you start tarring the movement with it, or no leftist could ever demonstrate.
Fox & co still regard the BLM marches as harrowing times of fire and death, of course, but the general population does not agree, because they allow for the amount of ugliness that actually happened (except Portland, where barfighting is a hundred-year-old local sport).
You can shut down these guys by just pointing to the foolishness of the basic demands, and by focusing on their "leaders", who are embarrassing enough. There's no need to harp on the one six-inch wide yellow spot.
I have to quibble on this -
| You can shut down these guys by just pointing to the foolishness of the basic demands, and by focusing on their "leaders", who are embarrassing enough. There's no need to harp on the one six-inch wide yellow spot.
If a narcissist tells you that they're going to try to do something, you'd better believe them, as whatever it is, however crazy it may seem, it is real to them.
If you're like me you're
If you're like me you're probably wondering if there isn't room at the top of Elgin Street near the War Memorial for the ~ Tomb of Every Known War Graves Defiler~
Max Fawcett portrays the new
Max Fawcett portrays the new 13% support for the PPC as potential votes that are created out of thin air. This is inaccurate. The 13% represents shifting allegiances, this time from the Conservatives to the People's Party of Shrunken Heads and Zombies.
Ageing Boomers will recall that there is a part of society that has always been redneck and relatively illiterate. This is not new. What is new is that there is now a dedicated redneck social media, redneck TV and redneck tabloid radio and a newsprint subset. They have a bigger stage and a louder bullhorn.
What is also true is that the right wing fringe has also become a bigger target for criticism and discreditation. If Bernier and a couple or three PPC candidates get elected, then yes, it's agreed they'll have a national stage, and that seems to generate a lot of fear. But then their policy ideas will then be available for scrutiny and dissection by everyone. All the more reason to direct lasers of truth, concepts of justice and ordinary constitutional law at both them and the Conservatives in parliament, in election campaigns and in the various media.
Redneckism has always been with us. Its manifestation in parliament and on the streets should not be feared, but countered in equal or better measure with much better ideas and principles.
This trucker protest is
This trucker protest is apparently getting quite entertaining.
As reported on some Twitter feeds, the truckers and non-trucker organizers have been in communication on an android app called Zello. There are a few competing channels and reports of significant infighting. People are asking where to send their receipts so they can get some of the GoFundMe money. Right. One can presume that would be for what's left after the city of Ottawa and downtown businesses sue the organizers for costs, damages and lost revenue.
Then local techies broke into Zello and started blasting them with some kind of raunchy homoerotic death metal song called Ram Ranch and another one about 18 Naked Cowboys. Though the truckers keep shutting channels down and opening new ones, the local coder resistance keeps finding them and playing the songs.
Who would have thought a deathray designed for rednecks would consist of hard gay metal?
There are also reports that a few trucks at the periphery have been towed.